Posts Tagged ‘SFMOMA’

Photog’s SFMOMA confrontation and aftermath

Local photographer Thomas Hawk blogged 10 days ago about a confrontation he had at SF’s Museum of Modern Art with Director of Visitor Relations Simon Blint. After spotting Hawk taking pictures from a museum balcony and arguing with the photographer — who is well known for his strenuous defense of his right to photograph in public places — Blint had Hawk 86’d, asserting his duty to defend the museum’s employees from harrassment.

The incident became widely known after BoingBoing blogged about it. Last Thursday the incident was analyzed at 10 Zen Monkeys, which tracked down and interviewed a security guard involved in a 2006 confrontation with Hawk. The 10 Zen Monkeys post, by author “Destiny” (for that matter, “Thomas Hawk” is also a pen name), depicts Hawk as a hothead who used profanity in the 2006 incident, which ended with the security guard being fired by his employers. Hawk also recently called for a boycott of Hyatt hotels after security personnel in one of them forbade him to take pictures in the hotel lobby. And Violet Blue blogged about another 2006 incident here on SF Metblog.

Clearly he doesn’t shrink from confrontation. While I tend to admire loudmouthed people who call attention to the abuses of authority, I also think the tactic can be self-limiting. What looks heroic in the short run can, after many repetitions, wind up looking merely quixotic at best, and at worst become an exercise in Ralph Nader-type egotism. But as technology makes ever-more-intrusive inroads on privacy and organizations become more secretive, I’ll come down on Hawk’s side — especially when he’s attacking institutions and not just individuals.

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